Residents of a former school that was converted into a luxury condo in the Gotham West complex are giving the developer a failing grade, alleging that the building has significant “design and construction defects.” 

Inkwell Gotham West
The condo board at Inkwell are taking the Gotham Organization and SLCE Architects to court. Photo: Phil O’Brien

The condo board at Inkwell, at 520 W45th Street (between 10/11th Ave), filed a lawsuit in the Manhattan Supreme Court against Gotham Organization and SLCE Architects, the developers of the building, on June 28. Before being revamped into a luxury condo in 2015, the building was home to PS 51. The condo still has some features from its days when it served as a grade school, including chalkboards, caged fans and rolling ladders.

The suit claims that the defects include significant HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) issues, and water leaks from the sidewalk damaging the basement. The board is seeking at least $2.5 million in compensation for “failing to construct the condominium in accordance with the promises and representations made in its offering plan.” The lawsuit was originally reported in Crain’s.

The building is a five-story pre-war brick building of 18 units — 16 two-bedroom and two three-bedroom apartments.  According to Gotham Organization’s website, the conversion into the condominium included reconfiguring stairs, installing a new fire safety system, the installation of a depressurization system and adding an elevator. 

The building has an interesting history. It was condemned by the city in the 1970s and subsequently developments were planned but never executed. The site was then repurposed as a parking lot. In the early 2000s, the plan was for the space to be a TV and movie production complex. Gotham Organization bought the site from the city for $4 million in 2015 and subsequently opened the luxury condos in 2017. 

The condominium is part of the Gotham West complex which has more than 1,200 units that are almost equally split between affordable and market-rate apartments. The complex spans nearly an entire city block and was part of Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s affordable housing project in 2011, the largest in Manhattan at the time. David Picket, Gotham’s current CEO, is named in the lawsuit and served as the organization’s President until 2020. 

A spokesperson for the Gotham Organization said yesterday that “we are unable to comment at this time.”

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  1. It’s worth noting that there is also a lawsuit against Gotham filed by affordable housing tenants at Gotham West and other Gotham properties due to Gotham’s removal of a “utility allowance” from their renewal leases, despite it being a term and condition of their original vacancy leases with no mention that it was temporary or subject to removal.

  2. The Affordable housing tenants At Gotham relied on the rents that every City & State Agency signed off on in the affordable housing ads when they applied. For Gotham to state years later oops we made a mistake! & that none of the Gov’t agencies involved nor our NYC Council members & NYS Assembly member Linda Rosenthal(recently appointed head of the NYS Housing Committee) will actively intervene on the tenants behalf with the tax breaks Gotham received is despicable!

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